It’s hard to miss facts about faith and scripture in the life of Tennessee QB Hendon Hooker – GetReligion

So, let me jot down a story of two in the East Tennessee media who spotted crucial facts of faith about this calm and steady quarterback and incorporated them into a grassroots sports page – the feature pre-match rituals. The title at Knoxville News Sentinel read: “How Hendon Hooker will calm his nerves before Tennessee football plays in Florida.” The question of faith was even part of the opening:

The Neyland stadium will switch before tennessee football plays Florida…, but Hendon Hooker will go into slow-jam mode and lean on his faith.

ESPN College game day will ignite the crowd. Checker Neyland will create a whole scene. And the sold-out crowd will rock the stadium moments before the Vols cross the Power T.

A few lines later, there is this basic quote:

“I just go into meditation mode and put on my gospel playlist,” Hooker said Monday. “I really listen to a lot of slow jams and really relax. I kind of go into the locker room and mop everyone up, just to make sure I’m ready to ride. And they reassure me by the look in their eyes that they’re ready to ride too.

Now, this is where this short story stopped for a moment and posed some follow-up questions.

Raise your hand if you think it would make sense to ask for sample music in this pre-game playlist. This story didn’t go into great detail, but it liked this topic to one of the most interesting facts about the quarterback’s resume.

Hooker’s playlist still includes Grammy-nominated gospel singer Kiki Sheard, as well as Kirk Franklin and Fred Hammond. And when Tennessee quarterbacks know the game plan inside and out, they turn their attention to a different playbook.

“Me and (quarterback Joe Milton) have a devotional book that we read every day,” Hooker said. “So before the game, we’ll read a page or two.”

It’s no surprise that faith plays a part in Hooker’s pregame ritual. One of his first forays into the space of name, image and likeness was to create a faith-based children’s book titled “The ABCs of Scripture for Athletes”.

If readers are interested in this topic, they can go to Hooker’s website – Hooked On Sports – or read nearly identical material in an article – “Meditation, gospel music key to Hooker’s pregame routine – in the Flights section of this fan-niche website, 247sports.com.

I would ask if “meditation” is another word for “prayer”. Also, it’s worth noting that the religious hooks in this story do not appear in a UT sports press release titled “‘Brotherhood’ Helping Tennessee QB Duo Flourish.”

It’s all the more interesting because the deep friendship between Hooker and Milton really raises eyebrows. Why? Milton was the 2021 starter until an injury put Hooker on the field and the rest is Vols history.

College football fans all know what’s supposed to happen next in the era of the NCAA’s “transfer portal” – that legal wormhole that allows athletes to hop from school to school in search of a place in the starting line-up. Again, some stars may seek a better financial deal under the “Name, Image, Likeness” rules allowing them to be paid for promotional work with local, regional or national brands.

So why is the massive, talented, and fast Milton still at UT-Knoxville?

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